Deciding to use a remote assistant is no small decision. If you’ve reached this point in your search, your business has probably outgrown your ability to handle all of the administrative and daily tasks required to keep things running smoothly, while still giving you time to focus on your growth.
It’s a great decision to outsource and begin delegating tasks to a remote assistant; one that could statistically save you up to 78% on operating expenses (as opposed to hiring in-house). But, there’s still one big decision to make: should you aim for finding a dedicated assistant or just use a pooled solution?
In this article, we’ll go through the pros and cons of each choice, and which types of tasks are best suited for each solution so you can decide which is the best fit for your needs.
First, let’s define what a dedicated assistant is, and what a pooled solution is.
When we discuss dedicated assistants in this article, we are talking about remote assistants who work for a provider and who work with clients one-on-one on a long-term basis. With dedicated assistant solutions, you are matched with one assistant who you will work with continually, and directly. (If you choose to look into a dedicated assistant, just be sure to read more on the compliance of using remote assistants for the long-term).
Pooled solutions for remote assistants
As the name suggests, in a pooled solution for remote assistants, you will be sending your tasks to a ‘pool’ of different assistants, and each task will be assigned to someone different. Pooled solutions are typically cheaper, and include access to a dashboard where you can post your tasks vs sending them directly to an assistant. Once posted, your task can be picked up by any of the remote assistants on your platform.
Before we go through the next section in this article with the pros and cons of each type of solution, you may want to take a few minutes to write down what type of tasks you’re planning to delegate to your assistant(s) so you can refer back to it and begin weighing which solution makes the most sense for you and your business.
Consider Your Goals for Hiring a Remote Assistant
What was the first initial driver that led you to look for a remote assistant? Were you working 14 hour days and decided you needed someone to take over your simple but necessary tasks or did you want someone who can fully focus on running the backend of your business while you focus solely on working with clients or focusing on strategy?
Did you want an experienced professional to review and streamline your processes to prepare your business to scale or do you just want someone who can schedule Fedex pickup for you?
In other words, are you looking for a teammate or maybe just a little help now and then?
These are all very poignant questions to answer that will help you decide if a dedicated assistant or pooled solution is right for you.
If you’re looking for someone who can just take over simple tasks or just some help now and then with short-term projects you may be fine with saving some money and using a pooled solution. With these types of tasks, the remote assistant doesn’t necessarily need much training, background, or insight into your business to be able to get the task done. In other words, it doesn’t matter who does the work.
However, if you’re looking for someone who can take on more detailed tasks like booking travel (where they will need to know if you like morning or evening flights, window or aisle, known travel ID, rewards miles information, passport information, personal payment info) reaching out to schedule meetings with your clients (which requires a level of trust) or essentially a teammate you can rely on, then you need a dedicated assistant to fill your role.
Consider Training, Onboarding, and Your ROI
As we mentioned above, pooled solutions for assistants are normally cheaper than using dedicated assistants. But when looking at your own needs, there’s another important factor that will play into getting maximum ROI with your remote assistant: personal touch, training, and onboarding.
What types of Tasks are Best Suited for Pooled Solutions
As a provider of dedicated assistants for the past 9 years, we’ve heard from many business owners that they underestimate the amount of personal detail (documented only in their heads) that goes into each task they do.
Normally, until they go to delegate those tasks, they don’t fully comprehend how much direction they truly need to give to get the task done to their liking.
Here’s the biggest issue with pooled assistant solutions: The amount of time it takes you to assign the task (with the details you’d like included) can not exceed or be relative to the amount of time it would take you to do the task itself.
Let’s look at an example. Say you need a remote assistant to schedule a meeting for you. You might think this is as simple as saying “schedule a meeting with ‘John Todd’.” However, if you use a pooled solution, in your request, you’d also need to include the following information:
- What calendar system you use
- What format you prefer your meetings be in and how to label the invite
- Share the logins to your Zoom, conference line or Google Calendar account in order to get the meeting on your calendar
- Share ‘John Todd’s’ email address so the assistant can reach out and check his availability
- If it’s an in-person meeting, where you’d like to meet him and the address
You’ll need to provide this information every time you ask to submit a request to schedule a meeting, because, with a pooled solution, someone could take on this task you’ve never worked with before. So, while this seems like a simple request, doing it yourself might actually be more efficient.
There are some tasks that don’t require this level of detail. So let’s look at some example tasks that are well-suited for a pooled remote assistant solution:
- I’m looking for an item that I can’t find locally. Can you find me a place that will ship me this item?
- Can you make me a reservation at a fancy steak house near my zip code for 4 people on this date and time?
- Can you help find me some dog walker options in my neighborhood? Here’s my address
- Can you research hotels in this area code who have conference rooms large enough for 10 people and the cost to rent each for a week?
- Can you try to find a store around my zip code who has the new iPad in stock and then call to hold it for me?
If these are the types of tasks you’re hoping to get off your plate, there are many pooled solutions that would work for you. Further down in this article, we’ll talk about the best places to start your search for those solutions.
What types of Tasks are Best Suited for Dedicated Assistants?
As mentioned above, dedicated assistants can work more as your right-hand, because they integrate into your business and are able to create and follow processes for similar tasks that take into account your personal preferences. Dedicated assistants are more than task-takers, they’re essentially the engine of your business, keeping everything running behind the scenes so you can narrow your focus to strategic business initiatives, and things only you can do.
If the tasks you’re looking to hand-off look more like the ones below, a dedicated assistant solution is probably a better fit for you:
- Complex scheduling
- Travel Planning
- Event Planning
- CRM Management
- Email filtering
- Monthly Expense Tracking
- Complex Research
- Fielding calls
- Setting Appointments
- Managing Contracts
But with the above, how can you ensure the quality of your dedicated assistant? What level of experience should you aim for?
Solutions such as subscription staffing offer premium remote assistants with a guaranteed 10-15+ years of experience, many of whom have previous experience at Fortune 500 companies. And because these assistants are W2 employees of their subscription company, they are a compliant solution for the long-term. This enables your dedicated assistant to become a true part of your team, and gives them the opportunity to learn your preferences and begin to anticipate your needs before they arise! If you are looking for a dedicated assistant solution, you can almost ensure a positive ROI with subscription staffing.
If you have decided upon a pooled solution, or don’t need a remote assistant who is senior, you can check out where to start your search in the section below.
Starting Your Search for a Remote Assistant
There are a few really great places to begin your search for either a pooled or dedicated assistant. One of our favorite sites is virtualassistantassistant.com.
This site has client reviews from all the major remote assistant solutions, as well as ratings and a chart with the strengths and weaknesses of each. You can also view videos from the company’s founders and learn more about the mission of each. If you’re looking for the ultimate place to start, this would be our recommendation.
Another good place to research remote assistant solutions is Glassdoor. If you want quality work, it’s important to find out whether or not the remote assistants that work for a company are pleased with the way things are done. Otherwise, you might submit a task and never hear back, or submit a task and get a half-done response.
Happy assistants are great assistants, so check out the company ratings and reviews from staff on Glassdoor before you move forward with any particular company.
Next, be check out the company’s website and see who their other clients are. Are their businesses similar to yours? Is the site professional? Is the company onshore or offshore and does that matter to you? What are the plans like and is there one to fit your needs and budget? What is their refund policy?
This phase of research will help to protect you from unforeseen issues and is an important step before submitting a task or meeting with a representative from any solution in order to protect your valuable time.
So which solution is right for you? Will you seek a dedicated assistant or are you going to try your hand at a pooled solution? Either way, we wish you the best of luck and many saved hours in the future!